“Have you ever had to battle for your life?” Chicago’s Wrigley Field, completely sold out and packed with 45,000 concert goers, erupted in passionate cries at Lady Gaga’s posed question. After fighting through the past few grueling years, the pop-star’s highly anticipated Chromatica Ball was nothing short of a smashing celebration of life’s triumphs and its tribulations. Originally released in May of 2020, Gaga’s album “Chromatica” has waited two years to be performed live around the world. The tour had been previously postponed twice due to the worldwide pandemic, but was finally given the green light earlier this year, and it was well worth the wait.
Fans from all over flocked to the venue dressed in vibrant colors, mesh, leather, high-heels, glittery makeup and even monster claws, displaying their die-hard dedication to the singer who made them feel seen. It was clear that the concert was about to be quite a spectacularly mind-blowing experience, and Gaga went above and beyond with the mise-en-scéne of her show to blow that expectation out of the water. Her set included a second stage in the middle of the crowd, a revolving platform, and even plumes of fire so large that every person in the audience could feel the heat on their skin. The costumes were absurdly extravagant and uniquely Gaga and yet always had another layer of meaning that told a deeper personal story. While the superstar has a knack for keeping her fans on their toes with surprises, she also has a talent for remaining in touch in all that she does, and obviously that balance is the foundation of her stardom. No matter the shoes she steps into — popstar, film actress, jazz singer, beauty mogul or something entirely different — she will always be truthfully and uniquely Gaga.
Each song on the setlist was a distinctly different experience, varying from ground-shaking bangers to powerfully vulnerable ballads. Gaga had the entire stadium jumping up and down with their hands in the air to “Replay” and then grabbing onto each other wordlessly at her acoustic version of “Always Remember Us This Way.” Digging into both the joys and sorrows of her complex past, the singer told a full story and expressed the full range of human emotion. She tapped into the souls of her audience in a manner that was simultaneously fierce and tender, a mixture that seems to capture Gaga’s essence perfectly.
After parading through the crowd during the beautifully unifying “Free Woman,” Gaga was led to a platform in the middle of the field where she sat down at the piano and truly let her bleeding heart show. Her rendition of “Born This Way” was the pinnacle of the 130 minute-long performance, where she began by earnestly asking, “Do you dare to even try to be who you are? That’s brave.” She then allowed the jazz side of her to take over, improvising the phrasing and the melody as she crafted an surprisingly quiet and yet incredibly powerful moment within her otherwise high-energy, vivacious set.
Lady Gaga’s larger-than-life personality and confidence has allowed her to be incredibly influential to the people in the world with unheard voices. Her knowledge of her audience was evident in the way she addressed the crowd and encouraged them to always be true to themselves. While she avoided politics, she acknowledged the recent divisions in America and promoted love and acceptance above all else with admirable grace. Her ability to wow a stadium full of fans while also connecting with them on a more personal, sincere level is undeniable. After waiting four years to see the pop sensation live on tour again, Lady Gaga has delivered a performance that not only acknowledges the recent hardships the world has endured, but also celebrates our resilience and strength with the bash of a lifetime.